Mississippi Governor Expected to Appoint Hyde-Smith to Cochran Seat

Agriculture commissioner would fill seat until November special election

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith is expected to be named to resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat. (Courtesy Cindy Hyde-Smith Campaign)

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to appoint Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to fill resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat, according to The (Jackson) Clarion Ledger.

A Republican strategist confirmed Tuesday morning to Roll Call she’s likely to get the appointment Wednesday, but cautioned that the governor’s office hadn’t directly communicated those intentions yet.

Cochran announced his departure in March, and his resignation takes effect April 1. 

A former state senator, Hyde-Smith was first elected as a Democrat in 1999 but switched parties in 2010.

In 2011, she became the first woman elected Mississippi commissioner of agriculture and commerce. A beef cattle farmer, she was co-chairwoman of the Trump campaign’s Agriculture Advisory Committee and had been considered for Agriculture secretary in the Trump administration, according to the Clarion Ledger.

Watch: As Cochran Moves On, His Famous Senate Desk Will Stay With Mississippi

If appointed, Hyde-Smith would become the state’s first female member of Congress. Mississippi is one of just two states — Vermont is the other —that has never sent a woman to the House or Senate, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers. 

Candidates from all parties will run together on a single ballot in the November special election, with the top two advancing to a runoff if no one wins more than 50 percent of the vote. Both Mississippi Senate seats will be up for grabs this year — GOP Sen. Roger Wicker is seeking a second term. 

State Sen. Chris McDaniel announced last week he was switching from mounting a primary challenge to Wicker to running for Cochran’s seat. Former Democratic Rep. Mike Espy, a onetime Agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration, is also running.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates both races Solid Republican.

Correction 1:58 p.m. | An earlier version of this story misstate the year Cindy Hyde-Smith was first elected Mississippi commissioner of agriculture and commerce.

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